Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann
The San Francisco 49ers got back on the right side of the score sheet with a 36-26 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. This was the second win over their division rival in just 18 days. The bounce-back victory also kept them a game ahead of the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West standings. With just six games left on the schedule, whose stock is up and whose stock is down?
Stock Up: Good Jimmy
Boy, oh boy, does quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo enjoy playing the Cardinals. Through the two matchups this year, he has thrown for 741 yards and eight touchdowns. His four touchdown passes in each game are tied for a career high in any single game. When Garoppolo was dialed in on Sunday, he squeezed throws in tight windows, moved the pocket and didn’t seem to miss a beat without tight end George Kittle or wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Twice this year, the Cardinals have sold out on defense against the run and dared Jimmy Garoppolo to beat them. And twice this year, Jimmy G has risen to the challenge.
Stock Down: Bad Jimmy
On Halloween night, Garoppolo threw for those four touchdowns without an interception. On Sunday, he was not as efficient as he was picked off twice. The first interception was the typical bad throw we have come to expect from Garoppolo at least once a game. While in the red zone, he locked in on Emmanuel Sanders and threw the ball directly to Cardinals linebacker Jordan Hicks who then returned it up past midfield, leading to a Cardinals field goal. Garoppolo’s second red zone interception was the product of panicking in the face of the pass rush and throwing the ball behind TE Ross Dwelley, who started the tip drill that was finished by Arizona safety Jalen Thompson. The 49ers were able to work around the interceptions and find a way to win, but had they not, this loss would have been pinned squarely on Garoppolo’s shoulders.
Stock Up: The Deebo Samuel Show
Prior to the game Sunday, I went on with Whitey and Urbs on 95.7 The Game and was asked about which receiver would step up in the absence of George Kittle and with Emmanuel Sanders battling through a rib injury. My answer was simple: “It’s the Deebo Samuel Show now.” The rookie wideout not only made me look smart, he also tied a career-high with 8 catches for a career-high 134 yards including an incredible circus catch over cornerback Kevin Peterson. Despite the slow start to the year, Samuel is starting to come into his own as an NFL receiver as he leads all rookies with 38 catches. His development is going to be paramount for the success of the 49ers’ offense, because…
Stock Down: Goodwin and Pettis No-Shows
…receivers Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis were virtual no-shows for a vast majority of the game on Sunday. Goodwin played 23 offensive snaps that amounted to one catch for five yards and one drop. Meanwhile, Pettis saw the field for only two snaps, which echoes what head coach Kyle Shanahan was talking about when he said, “The more he doesn’t take advantage of his opportunities, the less opportunities he gets.” Pettis and Goodwin seem to be firmly entrenched in the doghouse with little light at the end of the tunnel.
Stock Up: Arik Armstead’s Potential Payday
Defensive lineman Arik Armstead is quietly putting together the best year of his career. Often overshadowed in the headlines by fellow defensive linemen Nick Bosa, Dee Ford and DeForest Buckner, Armstead actually leads the 49ers with 8.0 sacks, many of which have come in key situations. He is currently playing on his fifth-year rookie option and will be an unrestricted free agent once the season is over. Now that Armstead is finally playing how the 49ers envisioned he would after he was the seventeenth selection in the 2015 draft, he is in line to become one of the highest paid players at his position. The 49ers could very well slap the franchise tag on his to delay his entrance into free agency.
Stock Down: Solomon Thomas’s Role
The 49ers entered Sunday’s game without the services of defensive end Ronald Blair, who was placed on season-ending IR with a torn ACL, and defensive tackle D.J. Jones. The lack of depth was an opportunity for Solomon Thomas to grab a lion’s share of the snap count and finally make an impact this year. However, he barely out-snapped Jullian Taylor, Sheldon Day and Damontre Moore. Thomas showing up to camp with a new attitude and in the best shape of his life seems like a lifetime ago as the product on the field hasn’t changed very much. Along with Pettis, he is another former top pick that could be fighting for a roster spot next year.
Stock Up: Damontre Moore, From Couch to Hero
Less than a week before the Cardinals game, Damontre Moore was at his home in Dallas, Texas, about to head to the gym when his agent told him to get on a plane to Santa Clara. General Manager John Lynch has to be happy he made that phone call. After running back Jeff Wilson scored what would be the game-winning touchdown, Moore showed his high motor when he punched the ball out of WR Keesean Johnson’s hands which was recovered by safety Jaquiski Tartt. The play all but sealed the victory for the 49ers and Moore was overcome with emotion on the sideline. With Dee Ford slated to miss at least one game, Moore could see an uptick in playing time. At least his legs are fresh.
Stock Up: UDFA Touchdown Numbers
The 49ers have scored 35 offensive touchdowns this year. Fourteen of those have come from undrafted free agents, including all four of the offensive touchdowns on Sunday. TE Ross Dwelley had a pair stepping in for George Kittle, WR Kendrick Bourne added one while continuing to be an enigma and RB Jeff Wilson scored the aforementioned game-winner. Shanahan has shown a penchant for finding diamonds in the rough and that ability is paying dividends for the offense this season.
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